It’s interesting that I’m writing this panel up for HeyUGuys as it seems that the story of Tintin is much better known in Europe.  North America is pretty much in the dark when it comes to these tales.  However, it helps the cause when you have a movie being made by the likes of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.  While I still don’t think the film is a household name just yet, I think the story the film conveys will turn some heads.  Oh yeah, the gorgeous performance capture visual effects might help as well.

That said, even I was going into the Comic Con panel pretty much blind.  I knew what the film would look like and who was behind it. That’s all I needed.

The panel opened with a standing ovation from over 5,00 people in attendance as Steven Spielberg took to the stage at Comic Con for the very first time.  He was presented with the Inkpot award for his contribution to the world of film and pop culture.  When the panel started Moderator [  ] asked him about the decision to shoot the film in Performance Capture, as that tool would be a first for Spielberg in the director chair.  He mentioned that early on they had toyed with the idea of shooting it live action but creating a digital *dog* to play alongside human characters, similar to Gollum or even Aslan from the “narnia” films.  We were actually treated to what was told to us was the original test footage of Captain Haddock and Snowy.  The clip actually saw Peter Jackson (Producer) playing the role with Snowy bouncing around in the back.  My first impressions is actually that the marriage between the two looked really damn good and I think keeping it live action would have worked just fine.  However, they made the conscience decision to shoot performance capture.  After the clip finished and the lights went up, Peter Jackson stood next to Spielberg on-stage and the panel was off and running.

They both spent time talking about their brother like collaboration on the film and how they both feel like if your not pushing forward your going to end up getting bored.  So many times at Comic-Con and especially in Hall H, the audience question are usually lousy and actually pretty ignorant.  With such huge names onstage I was worried that people would just want to ask to meet them or tell them how amazing they are.  Don’t get me wrong, that happened, but the questions that spilled out of people’s mouths seemed better than usual.

One of the most interesting questions of the morning was directed to both filmmakers but really only applied to Spielberg.  The question was “What film have you produced that you wish you had directed?”

A great question for a guy who seems to produce 10 films a year.  He started by saying that if he wants to direct, he’s going to direct.  Spielberg mentioned that he hires directors because he feels they are truly the best-suited people for the job.  However, he went on to finish the answer with a revelation that he wish he had directed “American Beauty”, a film that actually won Sam Mendes the Oscar that year.

Overall, the discussion between Jackson and Spielberg was exactly what you think it would be. Incredible.

We were treated to a good amount of footage from “The Adventures of Tintin” that really impressed me.  It looks like a perfect blend of action and drama that is just thinly veiled with CGI skin.  It felt like an Indiana Jones film as I was watching it. It was quite nice to hear then, after the footage rolled, that Spielberg found a lot of Indy in Tintin. You can draw a direct line from the Tintin books, which have been around since the early 1900’s, to the Indiana Jones series. Both characters are ordinary guys getting way too involved in what they are researching.

To say I’m excited about seeing this movie in theaters in all it’s 3D glory would be an understatement.

Wait, there’s more…

HeyUGuys was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the press conference held immediately after the Hall H panel.  Let me just geek out for a second, bear with me.  Earlier, when Spielberg walked on stage to accept his Inkpot award, I tweeted that I am officially in the same room as Steven Spielberg aka the greatest filmmaker in history.  An hour later I would be whisked into a room a bit smaller, to have a chance to talk further about the film to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.  So you can imagine how I was feeling at this point.  Sadly though, I had the mic in my hand with a question ready when they ended the conference.  Bummer.  However, the question that proceeded are worth discussing.

Below are some of the highlights from our intimate Q&A with these legendary directors about their new adventure.

Performance Capture is still very much in its infancy.  Spielberg said the following about drumming up support for the tool.

He was very adamant about the idea that the medium is not the message, the story is.  He claimed that audiences would forget if a film was 3D or widescreen or smell-o-vision if the story was great.  He finished his remarks by saying “If a movie works, the way it’s made won’t matter.”

Someone asked how actors prepare for a role in performance capture vs. a film where there’s an actual set/costumes.

Spielberg basically said that it all comes down to actors looking each other in the eye.  He made a point to bring up Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis being extravagant in “Some Like it Hot” (my favorite comedy film of all time), but that you believed they were friends because they worked together, whether they were in big costumes or not. He summed it all by saying actors always need to bring their imaginations no matter what set they are on.

As pioneers in their respective mediums and heavy users of CGI, they were both asked if CGI makes filmmaking easier then large set-pieces. Peter Jackson summed it up perfectly and piggybacked Spielberg’s earlier thoughts. “Story is still very analog.”

Spielberg also mentioned that he likes to direct from the audience chair, and that that’s how all movies should be made

When asked about their current collaboration together in regards to past ones, they stated that there was no ego or competition involved.

They are both such huge fans of the property that Spielberg said it was like they were code breakers working on the enigma code trying to figure out how to make a film from a technical standpoint.

Also of note is that while Spielberg directs this first film, the plan for the second one is to let Peter into the director’s chair to have a go at the story.

Overall, those two hours spent chatting with Peter and Steven were the highlight of my second day of Comic-Con, maybe the highlight of my film year thus far.  More tomorrow folks!!